“I really miss you a lot…I feel I need your support right now…I just feel I need you. I know you really cared for me when I was there.” These words express what a former Hillsides resident wrote to Lucy Abdelradiy, a seasoned child care counselor of 35 years. Known as Mama Lucy to those children who live at Hillsides and to our staff, she is the epitome of our values: quality care, respect, integrity, transparency, and compassion.
She is loving, nurturing, and respectful of every single child that has crossed her path. She shows them their worth, gives them reality checks, and expresses concern for their well-being. A faithful woman, Mama Lucy has been a constant in the lives of many of these children who have experienced at least six placements before coming to live at Hillsides.
Once they leave our program and transition into adulthood, sometimes begin raising their own families, Mama Lucy is one of the first individuals former residents come back to visit. For many of these children, starting families of their own, this gives them a sense of belonging somewhere. For one former resident who reached out to Mama Lucy, she knew she belonged at Hillsides. She recalled, “Hillsides was the best and where I was the happiest. I loved being around where I was loved and cared about by the staff there especially you.”
This sentiment is also expressed by Octavia, a former Hillsides resident, who came to visit Mama Lucy and was interviewed on a video on the “To Foster Change” website, an initiative of PBS Co Cal to raise awareness about children in foster care. Mama Lucy with her motherly love makes everyone feel welcomed and at home, especially children who have been removed from many houses.
Home is where your heart is. This saying is especially true of how our former residents feel for Mama Lucy and Hillsides. For some adults, who once shared a home with Mama Lucy, reaching out in times of need continue long after they emancipate.